Why Choose American Studies?

What exactly is “America”? America as we’ve known it is changing. The nation is experiencing greater racial and ethnic diversity. Concerns about the environment, food and poverty, and sustainability are being addressed, and solutions sought. The public is demanding greater equality for all, regardless of sexual preference or socioeconomic status. American culture is becoming increasingly diverse and its population more transnational. What are the meanings and boundaries of American citizenship? Who is “American” and who determines this?

The Department of American Studies at KU engages you in these discussions to equip you with a broad understanding of history, society and culture so that you can intelligently participate in the complex issues of the present day. We offer you a major, minor or double major in American Studies, a minor in Latina/o Studies, and soon a minor in social justice. We’ll give you a sure footing in a diverse 21st century — one that demands critical skills in verbal and written communication and research, the ability to examine and understand varied perspectives, and multicultural and multinational awareness and understanding.

We interact with our community beyond the classroom, especially in areas of justice and civic engagement. For instance, one of our majors, Emma Halling, recently helped organize and lead the student demands for changes to KU’s sexual assault policy. Many current and former students and faculty members are involved in the local Just Foods, as well as the Sunrise Project and other activities to end hunger and provide affordable healthy foods to residents of Douglas County.

We don’t shy away from the hard questions. We engage in activities and difficult national conversations concerning ethnic and race relations, such as those in Ferguson, Missouri; workers’ rights and union labor; children and immigration; and even the decline in affordable housing for KU graduate students . Our alumni are employed in varied careers such as: book and magazine editing, journalism, social service work and administration, human resource management, sales and marketing, law, museums, public radio and other environments that are enriched by a liberal arts background.

Why choose American Studies? Because America is changing and you have an important part to play in our global future.

Jennifer Hamer, Professor and Chair


Our Graduate Students
  • On March 27th, 2015 John Shreve passed his Doctorate Final Exam with Honors
  • On April 13th, 2015 Stephanie Krehbiel passed her Doctorate Final Exam with Honors
  • On April 14th  2015, Rachel Schwaller passed her Master’s Final Exam.
  • On April 22th, 2015 Saoussen Cheddadi passed her Comprehensive Oral Exam for Doctorate
  • On May 14th 2014 K.K. Walker will defend her Master’s Exam
Upcoming Lecutres & Readings

April 24, 2015
J.E. Smith
Author of book about Harry Belafonte
More info»

Upcoming Events
Congratulations to alumna Monique Laney (Auburn University) on the publication of her book with Yale University Press!
German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie
This thought-provoking study by historian Monique Laney focuses on the U.S. government–assisted integration of German rocket specialists and their families into a small southern community soon after World War II. In 1950, Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket experts relocated to Huntsville, Alab…

Congratulations to alumna Monique Laney (Auburn University) on the publication of her book with Yale University... http://t.co/SCSPzAXTtT


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times